House Passed Casey’s Antisemitism Awareness Bill, Pro-Palestinian Encampment Supporters Believe They’re Being Treated Differently

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US House of Representatives recently passed the Antisemitism Awareness Act. Members hope the legislation will deter antisemitism on college campus. This legislation is moving forward in the Senate as pro-Palestinian encampments on college campuses across the US continue to take place.  

We visited an encampment at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Students there said they will not leave until the university divests from any financial dealings with the state of Israel. This is a common theme among protesters across campuses in the US. There have been tense moments and clashes with other protests at different universities in the past couple of days. Congressional members said these encampments threaten the safety of Jewish students. 

Deterring antisemitism on college campus has been a focus for congressional members. The legislation the House passed would require the Department of Education to consider the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism when enforcing federal anti-discrimination laws. 

We spoke with one GWU student on the encampment. They believe they’re being treated differently than the pro-Israel supporters when it comes to free speech and freedom of assembly.  

“We know that freedom of assembly is incredibly important and that’s why we’re here today,” said the GWU student that wished to remain unnamed. “We know that we have that fundamental right in the constitution we’re going to use it to advocate for the people the entire world has refused to listen to for too long.” 

“These students who think they’re simply extending their freedom of speech without understanding the hate, the ignorance, the violence that is emboldened by it are wrong to feel entitled to simply occupy buildings, public spaces and damage public property,” said Rep. Marc Molinaro (R- NY). “They are wrong. Congress should not only establish a commitment to affirming the basic definition of antisemitism but ought to speak with clarity that this is wrong.”  

That bill the House passed now heads to the Senate. We expect it to get a lot of bipartisan support there.